May 5 - A blood-based protein called GDF11 that can rejuvenate the hearts of aging mice, has a similar effect on the the mice's brain and skeletal muscle function, according to scientists at Harvard University. The findings, which were published online in the journals Nature Medicine and Science, could soon lead to clinical trials of GDF11 treatments for humans. Rob Muir reports.
Professor Amy Wagers announced last year that that the blood-based protein GDF11 could reverse the effects of ageing in the hearts of old mice. Now, she and Professor Lee Rubin say it has a similar impact on the animals' brain and muscles. After circulating the protein-rich blood of young mice through mice equivalent in age to a 70-year-old human, the scientists observed improvements in the older rmice's ability to exercise and to engage their olfactory system to detect smells. GDF11 is also present in the blood of humans. The scientists believe clinical trials could demonstrate the protein's effectiveness in treating humans with age-related heart, brain or muscle impairment. They say they hope trials can get underway within five years.